The End of the French Intellectual: From Zola to Houellebecq

The End of the French Intellectual: From Zola to Houellebecq

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Overview

Charting the decline of the French intellectual, from the Dreyfus Affair to Islamophobia

The best-selling author of The Invention of the Jewish People, Shlomo Sand examines the troublesome figure of the French intellectual. Revered throughout the Francophile world, France’s tradition of public intellectual engagement stems from Voltaire and Zola and runs through Sartre and Foucault to the present day. The intellectual enjoys a status as the ethical lodestar of his nation’s life, but, as Sand shows, the recent history of these esteemed figures shows how often, and how profoundly, they have fallen short of the ideal.

Sand examines Sartre and de Beauvoir’s unsettling accommodations during the Nazi occupation and then shows how Muslims have replaced Jews as the nation’s scapegoats for a new generation of public intellectuals, including Michel Houellebecq and Alain Finkielkraut. Possessing an intimate knowledge of the Parisian intellectual milieu, Sand laments the degradation of a literary elite, but questions the value of that class at the best of times.

Drawing parallels between the Dreyfus Affair and Charlie Hebdo, while mixing reminiscence with analysis, Sand casts a characteristically candid and mordant gaze upon the intellectual scene of today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786635082
Publisher: Verso Books
Publication date: 04/10/2018
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Shlomo Sand studied History at the University of Tel Aviv and at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. He currently teaches Contemporary History at the University of Tel Aviv. His books include The Invention of the Jewish People, On the Nation and the Jewish People, How I Stopped Being a Jew, The Invention of the Land of Israel, and Twilight of History.

Table of Contents

Preface: The Intellectual as Object - a 'Selfie? ix

Introduction: The City and the Pen 1

Part 1 Intellectuals in the Torment of the Century

1 The Dreyfus Affairs: Human Rights or Authors Rights? 39

2 From Voltaire to Bourdieu: Who Are the 'True Intellectuals'? 67

3 Marx and His Descendants: Symbolic Capital or Political Capital? 101

4 The Discreet Charm of Fascism: Flirtation or Love Story? 135

5 Twilight of the Idols: The Critical intellectual Domesticated? 167

Part 2 Islamophobia and the Intellectuals' 'Rhinoceritis'

6 From Houellebecq to Charlie Hebdo: Submission or Humour? 203

7 From Finkielkraut to Zemmour: Decadence or Xenophobia? 235

Acknowledgements 265

Index 267

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